Mitigating climate change in the cultural built heritage sector

Elena Sesana, Chiara Bertolin, Alexandre Gagnon, John Hughes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)
116 Downloads (Pure)


Climate change mitigation targets have put pressure to reduce the carbon footprint of cultural heritage buildings. Commonly adopted measures to decrease the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of historical buildings are targeted at improving their energy efficiency through insulating the building envelope, and upgrading their heating, cooling and lighting systems. However, there are complex issues that arise when mitigating climate change in the cultural built heritage sector. For instance, preserving the authenticity of heritage buildings, maintaining their traditional passive behaviours, and choosing adaptive solutions compatible with the characteristics of heritage materials to avoid an acceleration of decay processes. It is thus important to understand what the enablers, or the barriers, are to reduce the carbon footprint of cultural heritage buildings to meet climate change mitigation targets. This paper investigates how climate change mitigation is considered in the management and preservation of the built heritage through semi-structured interviews with cultural heritage experts from the UK, Italy and Norway. Best-practice approaches for the refurbishment of historical buildings with the aim of decreasing their energy consumption are presented, as perceived by the interviewees, as well as the identification of the enablers and barriers in mitigating climate change in the cultural built heritage sector. The findings emphasise that adapting the cultural built heritage to reduce GHG emissions is challenging, but possible if strong and concerted action involving research and government can be undertaken to overcome the barriers identified in this paper. View Full-Text
Original languageEnglish
Article number90
Number of pages23
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jul 2019


  • adaptation
  • climate change
  • cultural heritage
  • energy efficiency
  • historical buildings
  • mitigation
  • refurbishment
  • sustainability

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  • Activities

    • 1 Participation in workshop, seminar, course
    • 1 Invited talk

    Workshop on vulnerability and adaptation of cultural heritage to climate change

    Elena Sesana (Organiser), , A.S. Gagnon (Member of programme committee), & John Hughes (Member of programme committee)

    22 Mar 2018

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

    Vulnerability of cultural heritage to climate change: Case studies in UNESCO heritage sites in Europe

    Elena Sesana (Speaker), , Alexandre Gagnon (Speaker), & John Hughes (Speaker)

    15 Nov 2017

    Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

    Research Output

    • 4 Citations
    • 2 Article
    • 1 Conference contribution
    • 1 Abstract

    An integrated approach for assessing the vulnerability of World Heritage Sites to climate change impacts

    Sesana, E., Gagnon, A., Bonazza, A. & Hughes, J., 1 Feb 2020, In : Journal of Cultural Heritage. 41, p. 211-224 14 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 3 Citations (Scopus)

    Increasing the resilience of cultural heritage to climate change through the application of a learning strategy

    Sesana, E., Bertolin, C., Loli, A., Gagnon, A. S., Hughes, J. & Leissner, J., 21 Feb 2019, Transdisciplinary Multispectral Modeling and Cooperation for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage. Moropoulou, A., Korres, M., Georgopoulos, A., Spyrakos, C. & Mouzakis, C. (eds.). Cham: Springer Nature Switzerland AG, Vol. 961. p. 402-423 22 p. (Communications in Computer and Information Science; vol. 961).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

    Open Access
  • 2 Citations (Scopus)
    158 Downloads (Pure)

    Adapting cultural heritage to climate change risks: perspectives of cultural heritage experts in Europe

    Sesana, E., Gagnon, A. S., Bertolin, C. & Hughes, J., 14 Aug 2018, In : Geosciences. 8, 23 p., 305.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 14 Citations (Scopus)
    122 Downloads (Pure)

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